In news sure to perk up coffee drinkers everywhere, a study of more than 125,000 Americans spanning 18 to 24 years finds no link between coffee consumption and increased risk of deatheven for those sipping six cups or more a day. In fact, heavy coffee drinking seemed to be associated with a decreased risk of death, especially from cardiovascular causes and among women.
Both regular and decaffeinated coffee were associated with a small decrease in risk of all-cause mortality. That suggests any benefit comes from coffee components besides caffeine.
Scientists have long debated the health effects of coffee. Recent studies, however, have identified possible benefits from coffee in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. This latest study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, aimed to assess the effect of coffee drinking on the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and all causes combined.
Lead author Esther Lopez-Garcia, PhD, of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain and colleagues examined data from two large prospective cohort studies: the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which tracked 41,736 men for 18 years, and the Nurses' Health Study, which followed 86,214 women for 24 years.
Participants completed dietary questionnaires, including coffee consumption, every two to four years. During the studies, 6,888 of the men and TI,095 of the women died.
Both men and women showed a trend toward decreasing risk of death as coffee consumption rose. The trend was statistically significant, though, only among women, peaking at 26% reduced risk for those drinking four to five cups daily. Part of the decreased risk of death came from lower risk of cardiovascular death for women as well as men. Coffee consumption was also associated with lower death rates from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis and from diabetes.
Lopez-Garcia and colleagues cautioned, "The possibility of a modest benefit of coffee consumption on all-cause mortality and cardiovascular-disease mortality needs to he further investigated." But java junkies can at least take comfort in the study's bottom line: "Regular coffee consumption was not associated with an increased mortality rate in either men or women."